UofI report shares new recommendations for student safety

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URBANA, Ill. (WAND) - The University of Illinois has released a report that recommends new efforts to keep students safe as they come back to school.

The News Gazette reports the report is the second survey of sexual misconduct on campus. It recommends targeting resources at groups who have a higher risk of sexual assault. They say those include people in the Greek system, LGBTQ students, and those with disabilities.

The school is also working to reduce alcohol abuse, which they say can be a major risk factor in sexual assaults.

The survey shows the majority of students thinks the university takes sexual misconduct serious. However, a third did not know how to make a report of sexual misconduct and one in five did not know where to get help.

The survey was offered in March 2017 to 12,500 students. 2,420 responded. That accounts for a little more than 19 percent.

61.5 percent of women and 87.3 percent of men reported they had not experienced sexual assault during their time at the UI.

However, almost one in five women, about 19 percent, and one in 25 men said they had been raped.

32.5 percent of women and 9.8 percent of men reported experiencing unwanted fondling.

The report calls for more training. Those working with first-year students, including Resident Assistants in residence halls should be trained on how to encourage safe drinking and the importance of consent, rather than waiting on students to seek out help from sexual-assault prevention programs.

The report called for campus to "shift norms around alcohol" by addressing the issues of consent and the role of bystanders to preventing assaults.

It calls for more training and education for those in the Greek community, those with disabilities, and the LGBTQ community.

The report also detailed the importance of peer support and using essentially a buddy system to keep track of friends in group social settings. However, the university pushes the burden does not fall on women to just protect themselves. They said a "cultural shift" is needed to educate men about making the right choices and making sure they have consent before engaging in sexual activity with a partner.

The UI expanded its "Haven" online education program to all students, not just freshmen.

They will continue to offer the First Year Campus Acquaintance Rape Education program, bystander education workshops and peer-led workshops on sexual health offered through McKinley Health Center.

The Greek system also has award-winning sexual-education programs, many led by students.

The campus is planning another "critical conversation" this fall on sexual misconduct.

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